Reasons Why You Should Consider Private School

A Look Beyond the Basic Reasons for Choosing a Private School

Teacher Walking with Students in School Hallway
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Some of the popular reasons why parents look at private school as an education option for their children include smaller classes and superb facilities. However, there are other important reasons why families choose to send their children to private school.

Individual Attention

Most parents want their children to have as much personal attention as possible. After all, you spent enormous amounts of time nurturing them when they were infants. If you can make it happen, you want them to receive as much individual attention as possible in school as well.

If you send your child to a private school, it is most likely that she will be in a small class. Independent schools often have class sizes that range from 10 to 15 students, depending on grade. Parochial schools have slightly larger class sizes typically in the 20 to 25 student range. With a lower student to teacher ratio, teachers are able to give each student more individual attention.

Another important aspect of increased individual attention is that discipline problems tend to be less frequent. There are two primary reasons why: most students are in private school because they have a strong desire to learn and, secondly, many private schools have more consistent enforcement of codes of conduct. In other words, if a student misbehaves or breaks the rules, there will be consequences, and those may include expulsion.

Parental Involvement

Private schools expect parents to be actively involved in their child's education. The concept of a three-way partnership is an important part of the way most private schools work. Naturally, the degree of participation and involvement will probably be greater if you have a child in preschool or elementary grades than if you are the parent of a high school student or a child away at boarding school.

What kind of parental involvement are we talking about? That depends on you and the amount of time which you can devote to helping out. It also depends on your talents and experience. The best thing to do is to observe and see where you can fit in. If the school needs a gifted organizer to run the annual auction, then help out as a committee member for a year or two before offering to take on the lead role. If your daughter's teacher asks you to help chaperone a field trip, that's an opportunity to show what a great team player you are.

Academic Differences

Most private schools do not have to teach to a test. As a result, they can focus on teaching your child how to think, as opposed to teaching her what to think. That's an important concept to understand. In many public schools, poor test scores can mean less money for the school, negative publicity, and even the possibility that a teacher could be reviewed unfavorably.

Private schools don't have those pressures of public accountability. They must meet or exceed state curriculum and minimum graduation requirements, but they are accountable only to their clientele. If the school does not achieve the desired results, parents will find a school which does.

Because private school classes are small, your child cannot hide in the back of the class. If she does not understand a math concept, the teacher will probably discover that pretty quickly and can address the learning issue on the spot, rather than waiting weeks or months to fix it.

Many schools use a teacher-guided approach to learning so that students discover that learning is exciting and full of possibilities. Since private schools offer all kinds of educational methods and approaches ranging from very traditional to very progressive, it is up to you to choose a school whose approach and philosophy meshes best with your own aims and objectives.

A Balanced Program

Ideally, you want your child to have a balanced program in school. A balanced program can be defined as equal parts academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. In private school, most students take part in sports as schools try to achieve that kind of balanced program. At some private schools, Wednesdays are a half-day of formal classes and a half-day of sports. In boarding schools, there may be classes on Saturday mornings, after which students participate in team sports.

Sports programs and facilities vary greatly from school to school. Some of the more established boarding schools have sports programs and facilities which are finer than those at many colleges and universities. Regardless of the scope of a school's sports program, what is really important is that every child is required to participate in some athletic activity.

Extracurricular activities are the third component of a balanced program. Like compulsory sports, students must participate in an extracurricular activity. Many private schools have extensive music, art, and drama programs, so there are many extracurricular activities to choose from.

As you begin to explore school websites, review the sports and extracurricular activities as carefully as you review the academic curriculum. Make sure that your child's interests and needs are properly met. You should also note that intramural sports and most extracurricular activities are coached or supervised by faculty members. Seeing your math teacher coaching the soccer team and sharing your passion for the sport makes a huge impression on a young mind. In a private school, teachers have the opportunity to be exemplars in many things.

Religious Teaching

Public schools are required to keep religion out of the classroom. Private schools can teach religion or not, depending on the mission and philosophy of the particular school. If you are a devout Lutheran, there are hundreds of Lutheran owned and operated schools in which your beliefs and practices will not only be respected but taught on a daily basis. The same is true of all the other religious denominations.

Article edited by Stacy Jagodowski